Series Name: The Princess Letters
Location: Governor Dodge State Park, Dodgeville, WI
Distance: 8.4 miles
The “Princess Letters” series is a collection of boxes featuring fairy tale princesses and other characters, all of whom have been displaced from their former home, Storybook Gardens, in the Wisconsin Dells. Storybook Gardens was shuttered in 2011 and, unfortunately, its residents were left without homes. While we need not dwell on the arduous journey that took them from the Dells to Dodgeville, WI, you’ll see that the experience has had a variety of effects on the various princesses. Should you wish to visit these lovely ladies in their new homes, the letters that follow will take you there. But beware – the way is long and rocky, and the ladies have clearly prized their safety over the convenience of wandering guests. That said, we hope that you enjoy visiting these seven princesses in their new home at Governor Dodge State Park.
NOTES RE: GOVERNOR DODGE STATE PARK – There is a fee to enter the park. One day passes may be purchased by anyone who doesn’t have a Wisconsin DNR window sticker. Also, please be aware that the Meadow Valley Trail is open to cross-country skiers, and closed to hikers when covered with snow.
NOTE RE: STAMPS – There’s a fair amount of detail to these stamps. We’ve found that the images come out most cleanly if you use a flat piece of wood or plastic to apply even pressure when stamping into a logbook.
DISCLAIMER – The stamp images that are included in this series are based on the work of J. Scott Campbell, a comic book cover artist whose work includes a series of calendars called Fairy Tale Fantasies. Campbell cites two of his strongest artistic influences as Disney animator Marc Davis, and famed pin-up illustrator Gil Elvgren. And the combination of those two styles is essentially what you have here. While not overtly risqué, the images certainly take liberties with the ubiquitous “Disney Princess” imagery that one might expect. The characters are a bit more adult, the curves are curvier, the skirts are shorter, etc. If you’re unsure whether the stamps will be appropriate (especially for younger letterboxers), we urge you to do a Google image search on “J. Scott Campbell Fairytale”. That will give you a sense of what awaits…
Letter #1 – Alice
My Dearest Lorina,
I do hope that this letter finds you well. It’s been some time, my sister, since I’ve written to you, and so very much has happened to me. You see, my friends and I were shut out of our homes not so long ago, and forced to find new places of residence. We made our way to Governor Dodge State Park, and found ourselves on a hard stone path called the Stephens Falls Trail. There were seven of us, and we made quite a sight (and a good deal of noise as well). In short order, we came to an intersection and – oh dear – you know those can be quite confusing. Cinderella, however, seemed to have a very firm grasp of where we should go next, and she confidently offered that we should turn left and begin walking on the Lost Canyon Trail, past the springhouse, and up the hill.
So up the hill we went, until we came to yet another intersection. At that intersection, we determined to move toward even higher ground. We walked straight ahead, joining the Gold Mine Trail. This excited Snow White terribly, and she began talking on and on about seven friends of hears that she missed dearly, and how they used to work in a mine. As we all listened politely to Snow White’s tale, we came to a coach road, and crossed to the other side.
By this time, I was feeling rather tired, and a bit bored of stories about dwarves and poisoned apples. I began thinking quite intently about finding a place to lie down for a while. And as luck would have it, that was when I spotted the rabbit hole.
Down into the woods, to the right, we joined a horse trail. We walked to a post with a sign reminding us that we were on the Gold Mine Trail and right to the right of that post, I spied an old oak tree. And on the far side of that tree, near the ground, there was a hole. Now, I’ve often found myself considering rabbit holes, and I find that they’re most often simply rabbit holes. But one never knows. And so I peered inside and found that this hole reminded me very much of Wonderland.
Then and there, I decided that this would be my new home. I bid my friends farewell, and they travelled onward. And I lay my head down for some much-deserved rest. Please do come and visit me soon. I shall be waiting to hear from you.
Letter #2 – Snow White
Dear Doc, Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, and Dopey…
My dearest friends, I’m sorry to have been so long without having written. I’ve been on an unexpected adventure since leaving the Storybook Garden, and I miss you all terribly. I hope to see you soon. Of course, you’ll need to know where to find me.
As you know, I’ve been traveling with six other princesses. Well, actually, five other princesses and one young girl. She was fond, however, of reminding us that she had spent some time in the court of the Queen of Hearts, and that she should be considered nearly a princess because of it. Strange child. In any case, we all went to find new places to call home. She found hers first, in the foot of an old oak tree.
Once we’d left her, we continued along the Gold Mine Trail. (Yes – they have mines here!) Eventually, we came to an intersection, where we decided to walk straight ahead, joining the Meadow Valley Trail. We walked on, continuing as the trail bent to the left. Then we walked on some more, and I thought of singing a song to pass the time. But Belle gave me a nasty look, and I thought better of it.
Soon, just before the trail curved to the right, on the right side of the trail, I saw a single tree with three trunks. One of the trunks, on the east side of the tree, had been split apart most violently. I looked around, because that kind of axe work made me think of a certain huntsman. And it was then that I spotted my new home.
I was so distraught, though, because I could not begin to think of how to describe the exact place to you all. And the thought of not seeing you made me very sad. But the Lady Badr al-Budur, who was an adventurous sort from a far off land, pulled a small box from her bag. She called the thing a compass, and she stood by the split tree and turned to face the stump that I’d spotted. Then she said to tell you two-hundred eighty degrees. That’s all. I’m not certain what it means, but she assured me that you would find it helpful.
Once you’re facing the stump, walk forty steps towards it. On the ground, to the right of the stump, you’ll find a fallen log. My home is in that log, in a hole about four feet away from the stump. It was quite dirty when I found it, and there was a lot of whistling and working required to get it tidy, but it’s ready for guests now, and I can’t wait for you to come visit.
I’ll see you soon.
Letter #3 – Beauty and the Beast
I am writing to tell you that I’ve given your offer some serious thought, and I would like to sit and talk with you more about it. As you are quite aware, I have had the excruciating experience of traveling over hill and dale with six other princesses for the last few weeks, and if that won’t turn a person to the dark side, I can assure you that nothing will.
The good news is that my beast and I have found a new home, deep in an enchanted forest. After dropping off one flight girl and another even flightier princess, our little party was down to just five. And after two rounds of farewells, I determined that I would be the next to find a home. My excitement over a new life in the woods would be convincing, and my goodbyes would be suitably tearful. Then, all would be peace and quiet.
So we left Snow White in her new home, and continued walking along the Meadow Valley Trail. We saw crossing, and a sign for a cave, and both Ariel and the Lady Badr al-Budur begged to go explore it. But we pressed on, much to their dismay. We walked straight ahead, joining the Woodland Trail.
The path got rockier as we began to descend, and I could feel in my bones that we were drawing nearer to my new home. The path became sand as we turned right again, and entered a meadow.
Maleficent, I have to tell you that I cannot understand, nor abide, the impulse to burst into song as soon as you step into sunlight. After being mercilessly evicted from our homes in Storybook Gardens, I saw nothing to be cheerful or pleasant about, and I simply couldn’t abide the insipid singing of my fellow princesses. It was a harmonious thing, about sunlight and meadows and finding princes. I hated it.
We headed back into the dim light of the forest, and I felt more at home. But that was short-lived, for we soon burst back into a second meadow. (And four of us burst once again into song.)
The path wound ahead of us, downward to the left, then to the right, forming a trail that one could only describe as serpentine. Just before we came to another meeting of paths, there was a signpost on the left. From this post, I asked the Lady Badr al-Budur to work her magic with the compass once again. She took a bearing of 300 degrees. From there, I walked 25 steps to a tree with a large fallen limb, on the ground to the left.
In that fallen log, on the right side, there is a hole. And in the darkness of that space is where you’ll find me. Please come soon. I think I’m ready to learn what you have to teach me.
P.S. – How you stopped at putting Aurora to sleep for 100 years is beyond me. You are a more merciful villainess than I thought…
Letter #4 – Ariel
I hope that everything is wonderful for you, and for the entire kingdom. I haven’t been able to write to you for a while, because I’ve been traveling from my old house in the Dells to a new home. And my new home is so beautiful! I’m near to the other princesses, with whom I’ve become great friends. But I’m also near to the water, and to a cave! It reminds me of my old grotto, and I often go there at night to read by candle light.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I do hope you’ll visit soon. The way is somewhat long, but if you can find the waterfall, then walk past Alice, Snow White, and Belle, you’ll soon find my hideaway.
Once you’ve found Belle’s home, you just need to rejoin the trail at the crossing, and take a look at the map on the post. I was so excited when I saw the map, because I could see the cave, and the water nearby. We took the path that led us roughly eastward. (Lady Badr al-Budur called it one-hundred twenty degrees.)
Soon I saw the lake on the left side of the trail, and my heart soared. It was so nice to see water again. I couldn’t help but hum a tune as we walked on. Eventually our shrinking group – just Aurora, the Lady Badr al-Budur, Cindy and me – made its way to another crossroads. Meadow Valley Trail went off in two of the directions, but the path to the left was the Cave Trail. We eagerly took the trail to the left, and began walking up and down hills.
Eventually, we came closer and closer to water on the left side of the trail. The trail turned to the right, and upward. My feet were rather tired, but we journeyed on. When we reached the crest of the hill, I saw a fallen tree on the left. Across the trail, there was a small deer path that twisted and turned its way up the hill.
We walked along that trail a little way, stepping over a cluster of logs. That’s when I saw a huge boulder on the right side of the path. I stepped quickly over another large fallen log, then turned back to look at the boulder again. On the left side, away from the path, there was a delightful little nook. I walked closer to take a look, and it was perfect. I decided to make it my new home, midway between the cave and the water. I told the others that I would see them often, and thanked them for all they’d done to help me. Then they journeyed on, back down the hill to rejoin the Cave Trail.
And that’s that. I do so love it here, and I hope to see you very soon.
Ariel – XXXOOO
Letter #5 – Sleeping Beauty
Dear Flora, Fauna and Merriweather,
How are you? I hope that you’re very well. I just woke from a long nap, and I had the most wonderful dream that the three of you had come for a visit, and I realized that I’d never told you where to find me. So I’m writing this letter to let you know, and to invite me to visit me as soon as you can.
The best place to start, I suppose, is near the large cave on the Cave Trail. There you’ll find Ariel, and her home on the Cave Trail is a great place to start.
When Lady Badr al-Budur, Cinderella and I left Ariel at her new home, we faced a rather frustrating decision. We stepped out onto the Cave Trail from the deer path, and we weren’t sure which way to turn. Turning to the left would take us back the same way from which we came. The path to the right would take use near to the cave. Well, Lady Badr al-Budur, ever the adventuress, wanted to see the cave. And Cinderella felt that our best way forward was to go forward, and not to back-track over the trail we’d already covered. So we turned to the right and trudged on.
I have to tell you that I was so tired by this point. I just kept yawning, and I wanted desperately to get some sleep. But onward we walked, up and down, past the sign that pointed upward toward the cave. When we (finally!) reached the end of the Cave Trail, we turned left to join the Meadow Valley Trail, heading south.
We walked down a steep hill, and into a bright meadow that looked out across the lake. As we looked down at the blue water, we saw a flash of red in the water, and realized that it was Ariel, waving to us. We waved goodbye to Ariel one last time, then walked into the woods.
Soon, the trail turned to sand, and the Lady Badr al-Budur excitedly removed her sandals to feel the cool sand under her feet. But the sand only covered the trail briefly. From there, we walked up and down and up and down. But still, I didn’t see anyplace that looked like a hospitable home for me.
We crossed a broad field, and saw an apple tree on our right. It made me think of Snow White. Now there’s someone who loves apples. I once told her that apples would be the death of her. Funny – she didn’t seem so amused.
In any case, we walked on across more sand, and past another lake on the left side of the trail. Eventually, we passed a signpost on the right side of the trail. Soon thereafter, on the left side of the trail, we saw a sign that said something about small game hunting. I’m not sure what. Cinderella seemed to find it interesting, but I was bored, and tired, and I began to look around. Just ahead, on the right side of the trail, I saw a clearing and a large pile of fallen logs. Just 20 feet past those logs, further into the forest, I saw a hollow tree that curled upward into the sky like a vine.
I walked toward it, entranced. And there, in the side of the tree, I saw a long opening. I climbed in, and knew that it was the perfect place for a long-desired nap. And that’s where I laid down to sleep.
Oh! I nearly forgot – look out for the thorny vines that have been set around the tree. I suppose that they’re good for protection, but one must surely be quite brave to pass through.
I hope to see you soon. Be careful of the thorns, and best of luck to you on your journey.
Letter #6 – Lady Badr al-Budur
To my dearest Prince Aladdin,
How do you fare, my love? All has been fantastic here, especially since I found my new home. Although I will admit, some of my time traveling with the other princesses was becoming rather tedious. Some of them are eager for new experiences, but others seem content to simply clean, or sing songs, or sleep. Still, they are nice enough young ladies. And I most certainly appreciated that they called me by my proper name. When we were all at Storybook Gardens, I experienced the strangest behavior from young girls who I would meet. These girls constantly called me “Jasmine”, which I took as some sort of term of endearment in this culture. But as time went on, I noticed that none of the other princesses received this greeting. Ultimately, it was explained to me that the tales of my adventures with you have been…reinterpreted. Presumably, my name was deemed rather difficult, and changed to another which, while exotic and rather pretty, is simply inaccurate. So I definitely appreciated being called by my proper name and title while I journeyed with Alice, Snow White, Belle, Ariel, Aurora, and Cinderella.
For myself, I am now free to explore, knowing that I have a safe home to return to at journey’s end. And I should tell you more about that, as I am eager to see you again.
I believe in my last letter to you, I explained how our journey had progressed, and how Aurora had found herself a nice place to sleep. After that, we continued up a short incline, and found ourselves at an oasis. I was near the end of my water supply, so this was a welcome sight for me. After stocking up with water and provisions, Cinderella and I walked to the northeast corner of the parking area, where we rejoined the Meadow Valley Trail. We quickly came to a fork in the path, where we walked straight ahead, onto the dirt trail.
We walked past what appeared to be a small outdoor theatre on our right, and continued onward into the forest. Soon, on the left side of the trail, I noticed a small stand of birch trees. They’re like nothing I’d ever seen in Arabia. The trunks are white as snow and, in the autumn, the leaves are a brilliant gold color. They are beautiful.
After admiring these for a moment, we walked on, following the trail where it led. Eventually, the trail straightened out before us, with tall, strong trees on either side. Ahead, I could see another crossing. But before we reached it, some 100 metres back, I turned to my right and noted a hollow tree, some 20 feet from the trail.
I wasn’t entirely sure if this was the right place, but Cinderella reminded me that we were near to the Lost Canyon, which was where she was planning to make her home. This Lost Canyon sounded lovely, and I wanted to be close enough to explore it. Still, there was something about this forest, and this spot, which called to me. I thought again of Ariel who, faced with a choice between a cave and a lake, chose a nice safe spot in between. And I determined that this tree would provide a safe harbor, and a launching point for adventures of all kinds.
And so that is where you’ll find me, my love. I’ll await word of your coming. If you arrive, and find me gone, know that I’m off exploring something new and exciting, and that I’ll return to you soon.
Your Lady, Badr al-Budur
Letter #7 – Cinderella
Dear Prince Charming,
I’ve kept you apprised of my travels so far, so now all that’s left is the end. I’ve found a defensible location, where I shall be safe and sound. As we expected, the Lost Canyon Trail is beautiful, and provides ample cover. When you see it, I think you’ll enjoy it greatly.
During this last stage of my journey, I was alone, and able to fully take in the scenery. While I did enjoy the company of the others, their lack of planning amazed me. It’s as though they were content to simply fall into adventures that ended happily, rather than making a plan, and executing it to perfection. To each her own, I suppose.
For my part, I said farewell to my Arabian friend, and journeyed onward to a crossing of the paths. Once there, I went left, staying on the Meadow Valley Trail for a bit longer. Eventually, I crossed a carriage road. I remained on the Meadow Valley Trail, crossing a broad meadow and finally ascending a gentle hill to reach a new intersection.
Here, I crossed a gravel path and joined the left-hand branch of the Lost Canyon Trail. I was quite pleased to leave the horse trails. Horses, to be frank, make me anxious. One never knows whether it’s an actual horse, or an enchanted mouse, and that uncertainty is uncomfortable.
In any case, I’d finally reached the Lost Canyon Trail.
The ground sloped down sharply on my right side as I went down a hill, and around a sharp bend in the path. I noted a sign for a bridge crossing, but it wasn’t a proper bridge at all. It appeared to be dirt and grass heaped into a metal drainpipe. I descended into the canyon, noting the large stones up the hill on the left side.
Soon, I saw a second sign for a bridge crossing, and knew immediately that this was what I’d been searching for. It was the polar opposite of the first bridge I’d crossed, and I felt a strong attraction to it. The bridge had wooden planks and supports but, as luck would have it, long steel beams underneath.
And so I made my way under a corner of the bridge, at a compass bearing of 180 degrees. There, I clung to the metal beam and surrounded myself with stones. It’s there that you’ll find me.
I do look forward to seeing you, and hearing about the news of the kingdom. Until then, I remain…
So there you have it. We hope that you enjoy your adventure, and that you had as much fun finding the princesses as we had preparing them for you!